Chinese New Year

I think I’m going to backtrack today and talk about Chinese New Years.  There are some things that are common here at this time.  Chinese employees at all companies get what’s called a “13th month check.”  Everyone gets paid once a month, but around New Years, they get paid double.  I don’t get this bonus.

Also, companies hold “Annual Dinners.  I’ve been to one every year.  They suck and I hate them, but I have no choice.  First, it’s held in a big, expensive, gaudy hall.  There are dishes after dishes of food set out, and usually only about two of them are good.  The top of the table turns so that you can reach for what you want by bringing it in front of you.  Usually, by the time something good gets to me, the plate is empty.  During the dinner, some employees put on a kind of talent show.  They practice for this, for weeks.  Also, there is a raffle with prizes like kitchen appliances, cookies, and chocolate.  All the foreign teachers I know hate these events.

This one was no different.  We had to meet downtown at this really gaudy wedding hall.  One thing was different.  There was wine.  By the middle of the dinner I was wishing for anything filling.  I was so hungry.  Really, we just grab a bite full with our chop sticks as the food passes by and it’s just not that that much food.  I often end up spitting out more than I swallow.

So I was sitting in between my two co-workers Stephen and James.  And I said that I would do anything for some rice, noodles or potatoes. Stephen and I had eaten our first meal of the day at 11, and it’s like 7.  I was hungry.  Well, one of my assistants, Annie, must have gotten the same thought, because she actually ordered food to be delivered, and it was a spicy potato dish and a noodle dish.  She was my new favorite person.

Another assistant, Vina was our branch’s performer.  I had no idea that she had been studying classical dance since she was four.  I am not being biased when I say she blew everyone else out of the water.  She got a standing ovation.  In that respect, I was glad I went.

We all get about 8 days off for Chinese New Year, and when you count our weekend, it’s really like 10 days.  Each teacher has a different time off.  Mine started early on Monday, and some people will end on the fourth.  So Sunday, I was having a great day, because it’s my last day before the big break.  The girls and I went out for dinner as usual (Stephen’s Pizza Place) and I had a very long talk with them about why women all over the world were marching.  They have been able to live in a perfect little bubble and I had to tell them what’s it’s like on the outside.  It actually went pretty well, until I couldn’t find my keys –anywhere.

If you know me, you know I am super organized.  Everything has its place, because I never like to waste time looking for anything.  I got this way when I became a mother.  I don’t think my ex-husband really appreciated the magnitude of the talent that kicked in, but then, there wasn’t much he appreciated.  Anyway, I have not lost or forgotten my keys for decades.  I’m sure I did at some point, but I certainly can’t remember when.

I remembered that I put them on the end table by the couch instead of where they belong, because I had to get the table ready for tutoring the night before.  But to add to the problem, I don’t have a smart phone.  I tried to message my landlord and my nanny from my office.  No answer.  Then I remembered that I have my landlord’s phone number in a picture on my iPad.  I don’t call him.  He doesn’t speak English, but I called him this night.  I told him to check his messages.  He said he was out of town and wouldn’t be home until midnight.  I asked him if he would call the nanny.  I don’t have her phone number and she wasn’t answering my messages.  He called back and said she was sleeping –at 8:30!  So I asked him what I should do, and he said go to a coffee shop and wait.  Everything closes so early here.  The subway shuts down at 10:15, so most things close before then.

There is a really expensive coffee shop outside of our complex that I never went to.  But we went.  Two pieces of cake and cup of coffee cost over $20.  We made it last for the three and half hours until he finally arrived.  I never felt so happy to be at home.  It was not a good start to our vacation at all.

As I said before, it’s the year of the rooster, and it’s my year.  I was told I need to wear something red every day.  One of my students made me a red bracelet, but it broke three times.  When I was out with Connie on Tuesday, I found a woman giving away red bracelets, so I got one.  It was funny, because she also had some scratch off cards for her jewelry stand, and my card was first prize.  The lady’s face was funny because, I don’t think anyone ever got first prize.  The prize was to be able to buy anything at 18% of the price.—Yes, 82% off.  But I didn’t have money like that and I don’t wear expensive jewelry, so I gave my lucky card to Connie, who used it.

So now, I’ve been off for 6 days.  I have several more to go.  On Tuesday, the girls, James and are  going in search of Taco Bell.  Shanghai got one a few weeks ago.  We’re going to have Taco Tuesday.  On Wednesday, I think we will have Rumi’s birthday party.  Until then, I’m pretty sure I’m staying in my pajamas.

My friend is moving and wants to get rid of things.  I want his bath tub, but we are having a horrible time trying to get it delivered.  I wanted to take a bath every day this break, but it hasn’t happened yet.  I’ve been waiting for a month!  It has occurred to me that unlike the US and Thailand, people here don’t own pick-up trucks.  Otherwise, this would be a lot easier and I would be in a tub right now.


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